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How to Choose the Perfect Foundation Shade Match for You

Finding the right foundation shade can be tricky. It is all too common for us to feel like we’ve found the perfect shade only to notice that our face and neck don’t match when we see ourselves in natural lighting. With thousands of different foundations and shades to choose from, it’s no surprise that many of us struggle to find our perfect match. While there is no exact science to this, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of success when selecting your shade.


Know Your Skin Tone

Foundation shades are identified by two factors: skin tone and undertone. Your skin tone is going to be determined by how light or dark your skin is. Some of the terms used by foundation companies to describe these variations will be fair, light, medium or dark. You can also be in between and have a light-medium or medium-dark tone. Identifying your skin tone is the easy part as simply looking at a range of foundation shades will give you a good idea of where you fall on the light to dark spectrum. 

Know Your Undertone

Along with skin tone, you will need to identify your undertone. This is a bit trickier than knowing whether your skin is fair or dark. Undertone refers to if you have any pink or yellow tinting to your skin. If you have ever noticed that a certain color does or doesn’t look good on you, then you are already paying attention to undertones. You may feel washed out in certain colors or maybe you notice that gold jewelry looks better on you then silver. If you can relate to this, then you most likely have warm or cool undertones. If you have never felt like any particular color looks better or worse on you, then you may be someone who has neutral undertones.

If you have a rosy, pink, or bluish hue to your skin, then your undertone is cool. If you have a golden or yellow tone to your skin, then you have a warm undertone. Knowing if you have a warm, cool, or neutral undertone (along with knowing your skin tone) will help you be able to identify which foundation shades are going to be a good match for you.

Testing Out Shades

We know this is not going to be an option for everyone depending on which shops in your area carry your foundation of choice, but test out shades in person if you can. If you can make it into the store to test out foundation shades, you will have an increased chance of success. Here’s some tips for testing out foundations at the store.

·   Always test the shades on your face. We are most often inclined to test out sample makeup on the back of our hands. This may be ok for eyeshadows and lip gloss, but your hand is not an exact color match for your face. Test foundations along the jawline for the most accurate color comparison.

·   Arrive with bare skin. Don’t show up to the store with makeup on. You will want to test out foundation shades on clean skin. Try out three shades that you think may work for you. If one of the shades seemingly disappears into your skin, then you may have a winner.

·   Wait for the test spot to dry. Due to oxidation, the color of a foundation can change once it dries completely on your skin. After testing out shades, wander around the shop for a bit with them on and check the color again once they’ve dried. Some foundations will oxidize more than others, so it is good to be aware of this potential shift in color to avoid any unwanted surprises.

·   Check the color in natural lighting. The lighting in malls is usually not the best. The mood lighting used in many makeup stores can be extremely flattering for our skin. While this is usually a good thing, you are going to want to know that your foundation looks good even in the most unforgiving light possible: the daylight. After applying your test shades, walk outside the mall and check the color in the sunlight. If it still looks good outside, then you definitely have a winner.

Finding the Perfect Match

While we recommend testing out shades in person, having the knowledge of your undertone and skin tone will set you up for success even when purchasing online. It is also always a good idea to shop from a retailer that accepts returns should you have any concerns about the color once you get your foundation home. The most important thing is that you are happy with the look and color of your new makeup, so make sure to follow these tips and tricks when you are on the market for a new product!

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